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Qu'est-Ce Que C'est La Vie, Chaton?

[Columbia; 2010]

By ; February 4, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

The story of MGMT is only somewhat of a novella thus far; Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden invaded into our lives with the electro-rock pop perfection that was Oracular Spectacular, and facing the torments of sophomore expectations, they returned with the beautiful psychedelic mindfuck that is Congratulations, dividing the opinions of many. One of the greatest criticisms surrounding the band has been the unique nature of their live performances, with many showing extreme disappointment with the tour supporting their debut.

Qu’est-Ce Que C’est La Vie, Chaton? Is MGMT’s first recorded live outing, and does well to dispel any preconceived notions of the band as a loosely constructed live presence. Simply put, there are no extreme variations within these live renditions, but the album does solidly showcase MGMT as being a perfectly capable live band.

Instead of opting for an entire “best of”-type live album, …Chaton? is a mere five track extended play comprising of a questionable track list, taking predominantly from 2010’s Congratulations, but making some other peculiar choices. While singles “Brian Eno,” “Congratulations,” and “Flash Delirium” are intact, Oracular Spectacular’s “Weekend Wars” makes an appearance, which only seems logical, as the track could easily find itself gracing Congratulations, encompassing the psych-rock sound that awaited us on the follow-up. It’s more than obvious by now that MGMT have a blatant disregard for the status quo, as …Chaton? omits all top 40 singles from Oracular, and in their place, is “Destrokk,” a track which may be foreign to many, as its only appearance is on 2005’s Time To Pretend EP. However, its performance has been slightly revised to suit MGMT’s new guitar-based aesthetic, which only does wonders for the once baron track.

If …Chaton? does an injustice for the band, it’s that it displays MGMT’s drug-informed zany character on show. Hidden subtly within severely minute variations such as the vocal delivery of the final chorus of mind-bender “Flash Delirium” or just the post-song banter, it’s refreshing to see a band that doesn’t take themselves so seriously these days (coughArcade Firecough). The EP’s title alone translates to “What is life, Kitten?” a seemingly nonsensical piece of pseudo-philosophy, which is enough to make you giggle at the least, or even question MGMT’s sanity.

There’s nothing resoundingly new here, but it does show a band that has undoubtedly progressed, leaving one to wonder what they are capable of next.


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